Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

When White America Becomes a Minority

Announcement of a Looming White Minority Makes Demographers Nervous.” NYT’s article makes this announcement of White America becoming a minority in the 2040’s like it is new news. It is not. Back in 2006, I exchanged emails with Joel Garreau about the same topic in his article 300 Million and Counting. Joel concentrated on the arrival of immigrants to the country being good news as it keeps our labor force younger than other countries such as Germany, Russia, etc.

One AB commenter asked whether it makes sense to have an educated populace if they can not pay back the cost of an education. It does makes sense to educate the population as they are better equipped to take on the requirements of the economy whether it is manufacturing or service based. Burdensome student debt in which excessive interest payment resulting from economic hardship being a precursor to paying loan principal only aggravates the problem of debt shackling the borrower to a longer period of time of debt servitude before becoming productive and contributing to society. It behooves the nation to minimize the costs associated with getting an education with low loan interest rates, forgiveness over time, and complete eradication.

A younger work force coupled with educational skills pays off in productivity gains at many different levels.

Joel Garreau also talked of immigration in 2006 in a positive sense:

“One fortuitous result of the enormous wave of immigrants coming to the United States is that the median age here is only a little over 35, one of the lowest among the world’s more developed countries. This country also has the most productive population per person of any country on the planet—no matter how you measure it, and especially compared with Japan and the members of the European Union.”

It has changed somewhat with the 2008 recession and the slack in the Labor Force amongst the prime age.

NYT approaches the issue in a nervous manner.

“The presentation of the data disturbed Kenneth Prewitt, a former Census Bureau director, who saw it while looking through a government report. The graphic made demographic change look like a zero-sum game that white Americans were losing, he thought, and could provoke a political backlash.”

Expectations? White nationalists worried about losing racial dominance. Progressives envisioned greater political power from greater diversity and a white minority. Others look to the immigration of new people as a way to fill the gap left by retiring baby-boomers.

With each arrival of a new class of immigrant, there has always been a backlash as to how to categorize them. In this instance, the change coming is already here, has been for a couple of decades, and will come to pass in the 2040s well after baby-boomers have passed. Whether politicians or white America resists it, it will not matter as this change will occur. What will matter is whether we give them the proper tools now to be productive later.

As Charles King, a political science professor at Georgetown University stated; “The closer you get to social power, the closer you get to whiteness.” King is the author of a new book on Franz Boas, the early 20th-century anthropologist who argued against theories of racial difference. The one group that was never allowed to cross the line into whiteness was African-Americans and the long-term legacy of slavery.

Just an opinion, when Mexicans, African-Americans, and other groups were and are in the minority, white America didn’t care. Now the status of white America is changing, they are waking up to it, and they care.

I urge you to read both articles.

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Passed on the Romaine Salad This Year

My wife was in charge of making the salad for Thanksgiving. For her easily done as she makes her own Italian dressing. I bought enough Romaine Hearts to feed 20 people. On Wednesday, we pitched them all as CDC said not to eat any Romaine as it was contaminated with E. Coli. We moved on to Spinach and Arugula.

It is not the first-time leafy vegetables have been removed from the grocery shelf and the dinner table. Indeed, if you glance at the attached chart, it has happened frequently over the years. Since 2006, there has been at least one outbreak of E. Coli yearly caused by leafy vegetables.

The Center for Investigative Reporting on its website Reveal was one of the first to break the story of why it has become hazardous to eat vegetables in the US. “5 people died from eating lettuce, but Trump’s FDA still won’t make farms test water for bacteria.”

Congress legislated actions to be taken in 2011 after several out breaks of E. Coli and the resulting illness. The testing of the water used to irrigate the fields growing the plants was to start in 2018. Six months before people were sickened by the contaminated Romaine, in response to pressure from the farm industry, and Trump’s mandate to eliminate regulations, the FDA delayed the water-testing rules for at least four years.

This particular outbreak originated in Yuma Arizona and is believed to be from irrigation water which is typically a prime source of food contamination and foodborne illnesses. When livestock feces flow into and contaminates a creek, the tainted water can seep into wells or is sprayed onto produce which is then harvested, processed, and sold at stores and restaurants. Salad leafy greens are particularly vulnerable and they are often eaten raw and can harbor bacteria when torn. In 2006, most California and Arizona growers of leafy greens signed agreements to voluntarily test irrigated water which minimizes the risk of contamination.

Farm groups contend the testing of water is too expensive. Some farmers contend the whole thing is an overblown attempt to exert government power on them. Postponing the water-testing rules would save growers $12 million per year. It would also cost consumers $108 million per year in medical expenses, according to an FDA analysis.

Go Figure . . .

Reveal: “5 people died from eating lettuce, but Trump’s FDA still won’t make farms test water for bacteria.” The Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Healthcare and….

Via Naked Capitalism and Lambert Strether:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. –Corinthians 13:13

I posted this letter in Links, but I found I could expand on it. Spectrum Health Care’s letter to Hedda Martin speaks for itself, and for what our health care system has become under neoliberalism:


View image on Twitter

Dan Radzikowski@DanRadzikowski

(The provenance: I started with AOC, who hat-tipped @DanRiffle, who linked to the original poster, @DanRadzikowski, quoted above. From Radzikowski’s thread, Hedda Martin: “This is me”; Martin’s GoFundMe, which was successful.) In this post, I’ll focus on two things: the intriguing backstory of Spectrum Health, the institution that denied Martin care until she could raise $10,000; and the weaknesses of GoFundMe as a solution. Before I get to the main part of the post, however, I’ll point out that Hedda Martin’s example is not exception…

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“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running”

“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running”

Two years ago in a post entitled “Those who cannot see must feel”, I wrote:

That’s the translation of an old German saying that I used to hear from my grandmother when I misbehaved.  It is pretty clear that, over the next four years, the American public is going to do a lot of feeling ….  The results will range somewhere in between bad, disastrous, catastrophic, and cataclysmic, depending on how badly foreign affairs are bungled ….

I have some hope … because both China and Russia are smart enough to figure out that they can get what they want by bribing Trump without resorting to armed conflict.

Although I never published it here, below is the conclusion of an email I sent to several correspondents six months ago:

Ever since Trump’s election, the lyrics of Al Stewart’s song about the 1937 Spanish Civil War, “On the Border,” have been going through my mind:

“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running …”

and I have thought that 2019 is the time of maximum peril to Taiwan and Ukraine.

The midterms were less than three weeks ago. Today Russia blocked the Kerch Strait, entrance to the Sea of Azov, effectively cutting off one of Ukraine’s ports. Ukraine says its navy is leaving port.

Between now and the end of 2019 is the most dangerous time, because any potential U.S. Foe will want to have any aggressive move be a fair accompli by the time the 2020 U.S. Elections are underway, let alone by the time a replacement for Trump can be inaugurated.
Good luck to us all.
[UPDATE: In case you’ve never heard it, here’s a link to the song.]

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Squanto — A Sad Thanksgiving Tale

Squanto — A Sad Thanksgiving Tale

I do not know how widely it is still taught or how, but when I was in elementary school in Ithaca, New York, I was taught about the “First Thanksgiving,” an event that happened in October, 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, following a good harvest after the pilgrim colony, founded in 1620, had a hard year that saw half their population die (about 50 people, mostly of starvation).  It was a joint feast of the pilgrims with neighboring native Indians of the Pokenok tribe of the larger Wampanoag confederacy, led by Massasoit.  Crucial to the event was the assistance of Squanto, who taught the colonists how to grow corn (maize) and several other crops, including the use of fish for fertilizer, thus becoming the model of a “good Indian” who helped European, especially English, colonists in what would become the United States.  Much of this is true, although much is murky, such as what exactly was eaten aside from the deer brought by Massasoit’s people (probably not turkey).

The problem with the tale is more about what is left out rather than any outright falsehoods such as claims that what was eaten was what is now the standard set of dishes consumed at modern Thanksgiving dinners.  It was not even the first Thanksgiving on US soil, with previous ones in St. Augustine, Florida in 1585 and at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia in 1619, although both of these were simply major thanksgiving prayer sessions that did not involve either food or participation by neighboring native Indians, with indeed the Berkeley colony being completely wiped out by a native Indian attack in 1622 that also nearly wiped out the nearby Jamestown colony.  But there are more important things left out, with some of them disturbing and sad.

I found out about this stuff as I investigated this matter this year anticipating having Thanksgiving dinner with my niece, Erica Werner (who writes for the Washington Post), and the extended family of her husband, Bill, and their adorable two young daughters, Lucy and Olive.  As it was, both because there were too many grownups talking about this and that as well as them being clearly fully occupied with other matters, I did not get around to telling the tale there.  So I am telling it here, an addition to the old tale I and many others were taught in school at some time or other.

The most important detail is that the pilgrims were far from being the first English people to have dealings with the various tribes of the Wampanoag confederacy in what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island (where Massasoit had his home base).  There were at least two previous attempts to start colonies in the area, in 1602 and 1605, both failed as the English insulted the natives and provoked them into hostilities, as well as failing to figure out how to produce food.  More egregious than just trying to impose Christianity and treating them as inferiors was that beyond these two failed efforts, English traders and explorers would regularly raid the tribes, outright stealing goods, and more importantly, kidnapping tribal members.  This is where the story of Squanto begins: he was kidnapped by a Captain Tom Hunt in 1614.

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House Democrats are Backing off on Nancy Pelosi

Most recently, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) gave his support for Pelosi for a major infrastructure bill early in the next Congress and a commitment to let Higgins lead the charge on a proposal to let Americans buy into Medicare at age 50. I am hoping they design the Medicare buy-in as it is not cheap in its present form and doses not include vision or dental.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) abandoned her quest to be the House Speaker. Instead, Fudge will head up the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections which Pelosi will recreate and Fudge will chair. Marcia Fudge:

“Leader Pelosi has granted me the opportunity to create the record necessary to satisfy the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, so that the protections of the Voting Rights Act will be reinstated and improved. She has also assured me that the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic party, Black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table. I am now confident that we will move forward together and that the 116th Congress will be a Congress of which we can all be proud. I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn.”

An important role considering what has happened in Florida since 2000 and in Georgia recently with striking voters from the rolls by then Secretary of State Kemp who was also running for Governor.

As PGL pointed out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has backed Nancy Pelosi.

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NYT video series on Fake News. Worth the watch

I had heard about a video series on NPR’s Fresh Air regarding the origin and current issue with the concept of Fake News via Russia.  You can listen and read the interview of the author, Adam Ellick here. 

There are 3 videos of 15 to 17 minutes each.  The series is titled: Operation Infektion,  Russian Disinformation: From Cold War to Kanye You can watch them here.   It begins with the AID’s hoax that it was a biological weapon developed and released by the US Military and how the KGB planted it and got it to spread such that it was ultimately reported on a US national news broadcast.  This hoax still has it’s believers.

We learned about propaganda from our experience with Nazi Germany.  With the advent of the internet, propaganda has become a more effective and a less costly means of waging war.  Based on the reporting in the last episode of this series the US is vastly behind the curve when it comes to protecting our self from the harm it causes.

This really is an issue as large and significant as any of those most directly effecting us such as health care, climate change, income inequality.  Unfortunately unlike those whose effects are directly experienced, propaganda/fake news has a virtual reality cover.  Which leads to me to the question: What happens as humanity becomes more accustom to experiencing life via virtual reality than naturally?  I suspect we become more susceptible to the intent of propaganda/fake news.

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District Federal Court Rips Administration on Census

I have had enough court time to last a life time. While mine was not fun and it was a battle, this I find hilarious. It is a well placed shot across the bow of someone who believes they are impervious to society, the courts, and morality.

The census case arrived in front of Manhattan District Federal Judge Furman requesting that he delay proceedings. Calling it the ‘latest and strangest effort’ in its crusade to delay proceedings in the case. He said what made the request ‘most puzzling, if not sanctionable’ is that the Trump administration had made a similar request before the trial started, and had been rejected by not only the district court judge, but by an appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Furman pointed out, “when the Supreme Court announced last week it was taking up the case, “it knew that this Court had completed trial, and it presumably expected that the Court would enter final judgment before the date that it set for oral argument.”

Bashing the administration for taking its request to an appeals court before he had a chance to rule on it. The appeals court again denied that request as premature.

“If Defendants’ motion in this Court comes close to the sanctionable line, that filing would sure seem to cross it,” Furman wrote in his order.”

Other quotable quotes?

– “Unless burdening Plaintiffs and the federal courts with make-work is a feature of Defendants’ litigation strategy, as opposed to a bug, it is hard to see the point. To borrow from Camus, “[o]ne must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

– “Tellingly, this time, Defendants do not even attempt to argue that they are entitled to the extraordinary relief of a stay of all proceedings under the traditional factors…In fact, the words ‘harm” and ‘injury’ do not appear anywhere in their motion. That is for good reason, as the notion that they — or anyone else — would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ without a stay is laughable.”

– “Defendants’ motion makes so little sense, even on its own terms, that it is hard to understand as anything but an attempt to avoid a timely decision on the merits altogether.

– “Enough is enough.”

State of New York vs US Department of Commerce

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Why Free Public Higher Education Is Not a Sop to the Upper Middle Class

Why Free Public Higher Education Is Not a Sop to the Upper Middle Class

Lots of bad op-ed stuff gets published in the New York Times and other mass circulation outlets, so I usually give it a pass, but today’s attack on free higher education by David Leonhardt is about my day job, so I have to make an exception.  He repeats the utterly bs line that, since most college students are from the upper half of the income spectrum, using public funds to pay their way is regressive.

No, no no!

First, why is the college student population so skewed to the higher brackets?  There are many reasons, but the financial burden of attending—not only tuition, but also the opportunity cost of not working—is a big factor.  The problem with free higher ed is that, the way it’s usually framed, it doesn’t go far enough.  As in European countries and elsewhere that take this issue seriously, students should not only get free tuition but a stipend.  We can afford and should demand the same.

Second, what Leonhardt doesn’t mention is the student-worker phenomenon, the crushing workload on college students holding down part time and even full time jobs.  Evergreen State College, where I work, just released the results from its survey of incoming students, and more than half expected to work to support themselves while attending classes, most of them more than 20 hours per week.  I see this reality every day in the classroom, where students struggle with not enough time to keep up with assignments, sometimes even nodding out to recover from a late night shift, or the emails apologizing for being absent because of a work schedule change.

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I disagree with Jennifer Rubin

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

by Robert Waldmann

I disagree with Jennifer Rubin

Conservatives object to the Washington Post defining never-ever-ever Trumper Jennifer Rubin as a conservative. Reflecting, I had to admit that I hadn’t disagreed with anything she wrote for months. Now, finally, I do. But, sadly, this isn’t evidence that she is still a conservative. She has clearly become a radical centrist third way mugwump (RC3WM).She argues that the 2018 blue wave shows that Democrats should reject Bernie Sanders and rely on a poll conducted by “The Third Way”.

I think this is nonsense consisting entirely of setting up an oxymoronic straw man and pretending that values shared by conservatives, liberals, centrists, progressives, socialists, and fascists belong to conservatives.

Her column.

My comment

I don’t see any evidence that people rejected Sen Sanders’s policy proposals, which are actually fairly moderate. It is very easy to get issue poll results one wishes by choosing the questions. Notably, the ACA is only moderately popular (50% approval) while Medicare for all has 70% approval (recently including Donald Trump).

On entitlements the moderate centrist approach is to achieve trust fund solvency with balanced tax increases and benefit cuts. The vast majority of the public wants more generous pensions, expanded medicaid and an increased Medicare budget.

 

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